Finished Splinter Cell: Blacklist.
Click here to see the hidden message (It might contain spoilers)
As a big fan of the first three (and somewhat of the fourth) games of the series, I'm probably being overly critical - but I do think it has a lot of flaws, which are worth mentioning, so I've tried to be as fair as possible. EDIT: Bahahahahahaha.
It felt like Splinter Cell. That's probably the best thing I can say about it. It looked great; the level design was really well thought out and was simply stunning. The use of darkness was well done and added to the overall tone and made the game feel ... I don't know the word. Moody? Tense? Edgy? That sounds right. As an example, the Guantanamo Bay level - at the beginning, at least - was the first time that the shadows felt right.
The gameplay, too, was done just right. The weapons were great, and felt like a natural progression. I even liked the upgrade buying system, though it did make the first few missions a little tricky. I even enjoyed the heavies, as it put more of a focus on planning to take them out. The stun gun, and later the crossbow, were excellent editions, and the gadgets, though not as expansive as the originals, were fairly well rounded, and contributed greatly to the playthrough - though I sometimes felt they some of them were superfluous - the cam and the drone thing. But the gameplay itself had one pretty major flaw: you could be seen in the dark.
Splinter Cell is a game series about sneaking through the dark. When enemies can see you, even from a distance that they should reasonably not be able to see you, they can see you. Even when it's pitch black and even the player can't see Fisher, they can see you. This was ... stupid. Just plain stupid. Sneaking around in the dark was even emphasised by the level design, so this is obviously something that the developers wanted the player to do, but it's a flaw that is just so mindnumblingly stupid that I wonder how it was even overlooked. Or worse, they decided that it was acceptable. It's not. I just - gah! This was the cool thing about the series. You could stand right next to someone and they would not see you. It was really cool, certainly, but also a main part of the gameplay, and they screwed it up.
But the stealth was made up of two components: hiding in the dark - and hiding behind things. Which also doesn't work. I don't really mind that, in and of itself - and ditto for the A and B button movement, which I felt was comfortingly similar to the Batman games (I think of Fisher as a government sanctioned mortal* Batman) - but they could still see you. If you just hid behind a block, they could see you, but if pressed B and Fisher moved half a foot sideways and down, they couldn't see you. I see no reason why they couldn't just do away with that minor difference, and have him be invisible just kneeling behind an object. Not to mention the sightlines; if an enemy was even at a slight angle to you, they could see you hiding behind a block. Hiding behind blocks, really, was only useful for an enemy directly in front of you, and for corner takedowns - mostly. It was more than a little bit irritating that these two elements of stealth were so flawed.
* I do know, of course, that the Batman is purely human and can die, but when I say mortal I mean that Fisher isn't a superhero. He isn't at that level of ability - very good at his job, yes, but not that good.
Another thing was the writing and acting. The story, for the most part, was quite solid. I liked the villain, he was pretty good, very compelling, and the actor was spot on. The last level, however, was just bad. 'Hi, Madame President, I'd like to discuss terms.' 'Certainly, evil terrorist who's just done more damage than any other attack has ever done ever in the history of ever, let me just invite you to my secret bunker, because my magic idiot ball says I must.' Aside from the ending, the story was quite strong, though because of the ending, it was ultimately a miss, because we didn't really get to explore much of his motivation and his desires, what he expected to get out of it, and worse, the one line of dialogue that hinted at it implies that it was a pointless secret grabbing mission. 'Hi, I'll do all this damage for a few secrets that will give me UNLIMITED POWER' because this worked out so well in the past.
While the story itself was good, when it came to the good guys, everything just fell so flat that Jar Jar seemed a compelling character. The team, under-utilised for the majority of the game, only got a few glimpses mid-mission, and at those times the writing was so clichéd that it would have been better if they had just died a horrible death (I tried killing them, but the game wouldn't let me). They were entirely two dimensional, no humanity, no depth (sorry for the tautology, but it bears repeating), absolutely nothing that made them worth screen-time. Absolutely nothing. And lastly, Fisher himself was no better. I just ... no. Nope. Not going to. He wasn't worth the effort of a rant.
And because I can't help myself, here's the rant: he was a spy who hated the things he did, but did them anyway because he knew the world would be worse off if he didn't. He often contemplated the morality of his actions, even as he did them, and even had a morbid humour about it, who was intelligent and would apply this often in his interrogations and discussions with his handler. New Fisher was just ... angry ... at something, and doing it for his friend, I guess? I seem to have put more thought into that sentence than the writers gave Fisher (Also, the Mill level was a good example of all that was wrong with his characterisation). Not to mention, Ironside - the actor who gave his voice - would provide a little something, often nothing more than a little inflection, that gave even the most ordinary of dialogue life (admittedly I may be hearing too much into it, though Ironside did seem to put more effort into his anger, with his seven layers of anger. The new actor just seemed to play base angry). Speaking of the new guy, for the most part he just sounded bored. He provided no such life, it was pretty much all exposition, until he got pissed at someone (often hypocritically).
I'll stop now. Rant definitely over. Not sorry at all.
EDIT the Second: Okay I really had intended to be more balanced. Just that, once I started on the problems, I couldn't stop. One more positive thing that I'll say about it: I want to play it again. I'd happily play it on its hardest level, trying for perfection. That's pretty much what I want out of a stealth game.
Now playing Batman: Arkham Origins.
I am a Star Wars fan. That doesn't mean that I hate or love Jar Jar. That doesn't mean I hate or love Lucas, or agree or disagree 100% with him. That doesn't mean I prefer the PT over the OT, or vice versa. That doesn't mean I hate the EU, or even love all of it (or even read all of it). These are not prerequisites. Being a man is not a prerequisite. Being a geek is not a prerequisite. The only prerequisite is that I love something about Star Wars. I am a Star Wars fan.